Early High Rise buildings are generally six to twenty stories high with flat roofs and often have projecting cornices. Most exhibit a skeletal appearance created by the total area of glass exceeding that of the structural material. Ornamentation, particularly around windows is either absent or very limited.
These buildings, which date from about 1890 to 1920, were usually occupied by offices or department stores. Display windows were often similar in size to windows on the upper floors, unlike nineteenth century buildings which featured storefronts that were predominately glass on the ground floor and small windows on the upper floors. The "Chicago Window" was commonly employed on Early High Rise/Commercial style buildings, as well as some twentieth century commercial buildings. This type of window was a large fixed central pane flanked by two narrow casements.